Xi Jinping, China's new president, may have to go to the root core of corruption in the country if he wants it totally eliminated - the state educational system. While academic performance still matters, it's been found that Chinese parents bribe teachers and school administrators to ensure their child gets preferential treatment and placement in the school.
Apparently, in China, the very idea of corruption reins in at such an age for the young, school-age population.
Guangdong Experimental High School, one of the key high schools based in Guangzhou, China. (Wikimedia)
Yang Jie, a mother whose daughter Qianyi is about to enter middle school, told the Washington Post that in China, simply working hard to get good grades and attain the respect of both teachers and peers is no longer enough.
Bribery had become the norm.
"Almost everything, from admission to grades to teacher recommendations, is negotiable in Chinese schools if you know the right person or have enough cash, parents and teachers say. As a result, many believe, the education system is worsening rather than mending the vast gap between the elite and everyone else in China," according to the Washington Post.
Admission to China's state school is free. But parents "gift" teachers and school administrators to ensure a smooth admission for their children.
Gifts can come in any form, from the simple presents such as organic rice to money to over-the-top items. Yang disclosed a friend, whose child also studies at her daughter's school, bought the school a new elevator. The extravagant gesture was recognised - the child of the gifter was immediately admitted to the school.
But what's even more alarming is that such gifting practices do not go unnoticed to the very young eyes of the school children.
Yang shared that her own daughter Qianyi had accosted her once of not doing the practice if only to ensure Qianyi the academic recognition she's aiming for.
Lists of newly admitted students - complete with their home communities, test scores, and any extra points they derived due to their ethnicity or family size - posted outside of Linxia High School (Wikimedia)
Qianyi, then in second grade, lost out a top award because her teacher opted to give it to another whose parent gave her medicine when she got sick.
"My daughter said to me, 'The teacher chose that girl because her mother was smart and gave medicine to the teacher when she was sick.' She asked me, 'Why didn't you give any medicine?'"
It was too much for Qianyi and Yang knew her daughter resented her for that lost opportunity.
A self-made businesswomen, Yang ultimately caved in to the system, admitting she had previously sent in gift cards of $US20 - $US30. But it still didn't afford Qianyi much attention from her teachers and the school because it failed miserably compared to the amounts the other parents can give.
"I want her to be able to see this society for what it is - one that is full of wolves," Yang said. "But I don't necessarily want her to be either wolf or sheep."
Still, Yang admitted, despite holding on to her guiding principles, that she needs to bend down to the system, no matter how corrupt.
"The system, the pressure, the bribes, it's all unfair," she said. "But in the end, the only thing I can do is what's best for my daughter."
To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
To contact the editor, e-mail: